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Saskatchewan, Ottawa disagree over timeline for infrastructure dollars

Premier Scott Moe and the federal infrastructure minister are in a disagreement over a timeline for projects the province says are critically important. Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and the federal infrastructure minister are in a disagreement over a timeline for projects the province says are critically important.

Moe is accusing Ottawa of delaying infrastructure projects worth $200 million from starting this construction season.

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A letter to federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Francois-Philippe Champagne posted on Moe’s Twitter account says the province has also faced delays for accessing guidelines.

The projects submitted by Saskatchewan range from a runway expansion in Moose Jaw, Sask., and the decomissioning of several landfills in towns to water system upgrades and support for theatre groups.

Deputy premier Gord Wyant, who is responsible for SaskBuilds, said he was informed by Ottawa on Monday that officials hope to see several of these projects approved within the next week or so.

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Champagne’s press secretary says in an email that Infrastructure Canada received the projects from Saskatchewan 17 days ago and most work was set to begin this fall or later.

“The Minister of Infrastructure approves projects after federal officials finish due diligence with their provincial counterparts, not before,” Ann-Clara Vaillancourt said in a statement.

She said the details of the government’s bilateral agreement with Saskatchewan have been clear since it was signed last October.

Wyant said the province submitted a list of more than 20 projects in mid-June, but that it took the federal government several weeks to approve the submission.

“The federal government wanted on that list a number of projects which they considered to be a priority for them, which we didn’t consider to be a priority for the province of Saskatchewan,” Wyant told The Canadian Press on Monday.

“The delay in getting the formal list approved was simply based upon the fact the federal government wanted a number of their projects, that they consider to be priority, added to the list.”

Wyant said Ottawa wanted two outdoor pools in Regina added to the list of projects, but the province felt that work could be done down the road.

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He said he believes that push for pools was political.

“There’s going to be a federal election this fall and to the extent that some of these projects … were in the city of Regina, I think that had something to do with it.”

Vaillancourt responded that the federal government was hearing concerns from other levels of government in Saskatchewan.

“Our inquiries were based on what we had heard directly from mayors throughout the province, mayors concerned that their priorities were not being put forward by the province,” the press secretary wrote in an email.

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